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The Victorian Railway

Jack Simmons

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An encyclopedic survey of the Victorian railway, looking at every aspect of their influence on the Victorian world


The railway was the creation, in some ways the archetypal creation, of the Victorian age. It transformed the whole social and intellectual fabric of Britain, affected Victorian thought and language, figured in the literature of the age, inspired artists, transformed communications and expanded the horizons of ordinary folk.

This absorbing book looks at every aspect of the railway in Victorian times from the origins and initial construction to the spreading impact on the nation; from engineers and financiers to the effect on leisure and the environment. This is a story that is not only enthralling in its own right but also fundamental to an understanding of British history and the nature of Britain today.

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'The scenery is magnificent … and every detail can be observed from Simmons’s window … The author presents a train-spotter’s paradise of information'
Matthew Parris, The Times

'Tens of thousands of books have been written about railways … but no one has analysed the world the railways created … This is just what Jack Simmons has now done'
The Spectator

'This wonderful panorama …like one of those great canvases populated by half the inhabitants of Britain of which the Victorians were so fond … You will wallow in this book'
Miles Kington

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Size: 25.5 x 17.5 cm

Extent: 416 pp

Publication date: 23 February 2009

ISBN: 9780500288108

Contents List

1. Images • 2. Structures • 3. Machinery • 4. Practitioners • 5. The Artist’s Eye • 6. The Railways’ Vandalism • 7. Language and Literacy • 8. Literature • 9. Mails and Telecommunications • 10. The Press and the Book Trade • 11. Publicity and Public Relations • 12. Leisure (I): The Excursion Train and the Railway Sunday • 13. Leisure (II): Tourism and Family Holidays • 14. Mobility • 15. Uniformity and Difference • 16. Loss and Gain

About the Author

Jack Simmons was the foremost authority on British railway history. He was on the staff at the University of Leicester for over fifty years, first as Professor of History from 1947 to 1975, and then as Professor Emeritus. He died in 2000.